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"Have you lived stainlessly since?"
own justification that he would estab lish, it would seem to him like treacherous and craven thing. All seemed uttered, without words, by their gaze at each other. He could not speak with tenderness to this cra ven who had beea false fo the fair re pute of their name, and he would not speak with harshness. The younger man stood half stupefied, half mad dened. "Bertie, Bertie!" he stammered. "On my soul I never doubted that the story of your death was true No one did. If I had known you lived, I would have said that you were innocent I would. I T\ ould have told them how I forged your friend's name and your own when I was so desperate that I hardly knew what I did. But they said that jou were killed, and I thought thenthenit was not worth while. It would,,have broken my fa ther's heart God help me! I was a coward! I am in your powerutterly in your power," he moaned in his fear. "1^ stand in your place. I bear your title You know that our father and our brother are dead? All that I have inherited is yours Do you knowlEfiat, since you have never claimed it?" "I know it." "And you have never come forward to take your rights?" "What I did not do to clear my own honor I was not likely to do merely to hold a title." "But, great heaven, this life of yours? It must be wretchedness "Perhaps. It has at least no disgrace in it." The reply had the only sternness of contempt that he had suffered himself to show. It stung down to his listen er's soul. "No, no!" he murmured. "You are happier than I. You have no remorse to bear. And yetto tell the world that I am guilty!" "You need never tell it. I shall not." He spoke quite quietly, quite patient ly. Yet he well knew and had well weighed all he surrendered in that promisethe promise to condemn him self to a barren and hopeless fate for ever. "Let us part now and forever. Leave Algeria at once. That is all I ask." Then, without another word that could add reproach or seek for grati tude, he turned and went away over the great, dim level of the African waste, while the man whom he had saved sat as in stupor, gazing'at the brown shadows, an3 the sleeping herds, and the falling stars that ran across the sky, and doubting whether the voice he had heard and the face upon which he had looked were not the vi sions of a waking dream. mgve^ent, and his hand fell heavily sea that sweeps down all before it. He onJftT other's shoulder. inovert slowlv back over the desolate 'Have you lived stainlessly since?" "Godls my witnessyes! But you youthey said that you were dtad!" Cecil's hand fell from his shoulder. There was that in the words which smote him more cruelly than any Arab steel could have done. There was the accent of regret. "I am dead," he said simply"dead to the world and you." He who bore the title of Royallieu covered his face. "How have you lived?" he whispered hoarsely. "Honorably. Let that suffice. And you?" "In honor, too, I swear! That was my first disgrace and my last. You bore the weight of my shame! Good God, what can I say? Such nobility, such sacrifice' We believed you were dead They said so there seemed ev ery proof, but when I saw you yester day I knew youI knew jou, though you passed me as a stranger. I staid on here. They told me you would re turn God, what agony this day and night ha-\e been''' Cecil was silent still. He knew that this agony had been the dread lest he should be lhiug. There were many emotions at war in himscorn, pity and wounded love and pride too proud to sue for a grati tude denied Long ago he had accept ed the weight of an alien crime and borne it as his own. To undo now all that he had done in the past, to fling out to ruin now the one whom he had saved at such a cost, to turn, after 12 years, and forsake the man, all coward though he was, whom he had shielded for so longthis was not possible to him Though it would be but his own birthright that he would demand, his CHAPTER XVni. OW that night was spent Cecil broken, I regret to'seev could never recall in full. Vague memories remained with him of wandering over the snadowy country, of seeking by bodily opening the enamel case as she mo in fatigue to kill the thoughts rising him. The full consciousness of all that he had surrendered in yielding up afresh his heritage rolled in on his memory like the wave of some heavy ove slowly back over the desolate tracks of land stretched between him and the Algerian halting place. He had no fear that he would find his brother there. He knew too well the nature with which he had to deal. While yet the caravansary was distant the piteous cries of a mother- goat caught his ear. She was bleating be^ side a water course, into which her kid of that spring had fallen. He stooped and with some little difficulty rescued the little goat for its delighted dam. As he bent over the water he saw something glitter beneath it. He caught It in his hand and brought it up. It was the broken half of a chain of gold] with a jewel in each link. He changed color as he saw it. He remembered "it as one that Venetia Corona had worn on the morning that he had been ad mitted to her. He stood looking at the shining links, with their flashes of pre cious stones. They seemed to have voices that spoke to him of her about whose beautiful white throat they had been wovenvoices that whispered in cessantly in his ear, "Take up your birthright, and you will be free to sue to her at least, if not to win her." No golden and jeweled plaything ever tempted a starving man to theft as this tempted him now to break the pledge he had just given. His birthright! He longed for it for this woman's sakefor the sake, at least, of the right to stand before her as an equal and to risk his chance with others who sought her smileas he had never done for any other thing which, with that heritage, would have become his. Yet he knew that, even were he to be false to his word and go forward and claim his right, he would never be able to prove his innocence He could never hope to make the world believe him unless the real crim inal made that confession which he held himself forbidden by his own past action ever to extort. It was almost noon when, under the sun scorched branches of the pine that stretched its somber fans up against the glittering azure of the morning skies, he approached the gates of the Algerine house of call, a study for the colors of Gerome, with the pearly gray of its stone tints and the pigeons wheeling above its corner towers. Cecil went within and bathed and dressed and drank some of the thin, cool wine that found its way hither in the wake of the French army. The trampling of horses on the pavement below roused his attention. A thrill of hope went through him that his brother might have lingering con science, latent love enough to have made him refuse to obey the bidding to leave Africa. He rose and leaned out. Amid the little throng of riding horses, grooms and attendants who made an open way through the poly glot crowd of an Algerian caravan sary at noon he saw the one dazzling face of which he had so lately dream ed by the water freshet in the plains. It was but a moment's glance, for she had already dismounted from her mare and was passing within with two other ladies of her party. But in that one glance he knew her. He went down into the court below and found her suit. "Tell your mistress that I, Louis Victor, have some jewels which belong to her and ask her permission to re store them to her hands," he said to one of her equerries. "Give them to me if you have picked them up," said the man, putting out his hand for them. Cecil closed his hand upon them. "Go and do as I bid you." The equerry paused, doubtful wheth er or not resist the tone and the words. A Frenchman's respect for the military uniform prevailed He went within. In the best chamber of the caravan sary Venetia Corona was sitting, list less in the heat, when her attendant entered. ^She ^had heard the day be fore a story" that had touched her of a soldier who had been slain crossing the plains and had been brought through the hurricane and the sandstorm at every risk by his comrade, who had chosen to endure all peril and wretch edness rather than leave the dead body to the vultures and the kites. It was a nameless story to herthe story of two obscure troopers, who, for aught she knew, might have been two of the riot ous and savage brigands that were common to the army of Africa, But the loyalty and the love shown in it had moved^her. When her servant ap proached her now with Cecil's mes sage, she hesitated some few" moments, then gave the required permission. "He has once been aj'gentleman. It vo"i be cruel to wound^him," thouaT imperial beauty, who would h? fused a prince or neglected a duke ai chill indifference. He bowed very low that he might get his calmness back before he looked at her, and her voice in its lingering music came on his ear. "You have found my chain, I think? I lost it in riding .yesterday. I am greatly indebted'to you fortaking care of it." "It is 1^ madame, who am the debtor of so hap'py an incident." His words were very low, and his voice shook a little over them. He was ttiinlcingliot of the jeweled toy that he came here to restore, but of the in heritance which had passed away from him forever and which, possessed, would have givenTiim the title to seek what his own efforts couhfao to wake a look of tenderness in those proud eyes. "Your chain is here, madame, though he continued ashe took the little box from his coat and handed it to her. She took it and thanked him without for the moment tioned him to a seat at a little distance from her own. "You have been in terrible scenes since I saw you last," she continued. "The story of Zaraila reached us. Ssi* -$&*&?** T1IJE PJRLNOETOIS UJSTIOHl ly they cannot refuse you the reward of your service now?" A very weary smile passed over his face. "I have no ambition, madame, or if I have it is not a pair of epaulets that will content it" She understood him. She compre hended the bitter mockery that the tawdry, metericious rewards of regi mental decoration seemed to the man who had waited to die at Zaraila as patiently and as grandly as the Old Guard at Waterloo. "I understand. The rewards are piti fully disproportionate to the services in any army. Yet how magnificently you and your men, as I have been told, held your ground all through that fearful day!" "We did our duty, nothing more. We are called human machines. We are so, since we move by no will of our own. But the lowest among us will at times be propelled by one single im pulsea desire to die greatly. It is all that is left to most of us to do." "Yes," she said thoughtfully, while over the brilliancy of her face there passed a shadow. "There must be in- "You have found my chain, 1 think?" finite nobility among these men who live without hop&live only to die. That soldier a day or two ago who brought his dead comrade through the hurricane, risking his own death rath er than leave the body to the carrion birdsyou have heard of him? What tenderness, what greatness, there must have been in that poor fellow's heart!" "Oh, no! That was nothing!" "Nothing! They have told me he came every inch of the way in danger of the Arabs' shot and steel. He had suffered so much to bring the body safe across the plains he fell down in sensible on his entrance here." "You set too much store on it. I owed him a debt far greater than any act like that could ever repay." "You! Was it you?" "Yes, madame. He who perished had a thousandfold more of such nobility as you have praised than I." "Ah! Tell mo of him," she said-siffl ply. But he saw that the lustrous eyes bent on him had a grave, sweet sad ness in them that was more precious and more pitiful than a million utter ances of regret could ever have been. As he obeyed her hands toyed with the enamel bonbonniere, whose silver had lost all its bright enameling and was dented and dulled till it looked no more than lead. The lid came off at her touch as she musingly moved it round and round. The chain and the ring fell into her lap: the lid remained in her hand, Its interior unspoiled and stud ded in its center with one name in turquoise lettersVenetia. She started as the letters caught her eye and turned her head and gazed at her companion. "How did you obtain this?" "The chain, madame? It had fallen in the water." "The chain! No, the box!" He looked at her in surprise. "It was given me very long ago." "And by whom?" "By a young child, madame." Her lips parted slightly. The flush on her cheeks deepened. The beautiful face which the Roman sculptor had said only wanted tenderness to make it perfect changed, moved, was quickened with a thousand shadows of thought. "The box is mine! I gave it! And you?" He rose to his feet and stood entranc ed before her, breathless and mute. "And you?" she repeated. He was silent still, gazing at he'r. He knew her now. How had he been so blind as never to guess the truth be fore, as never to know that those im perial eyes and that diadem of golden hair could belong alone but to the wo men of one race? "And you?" she cried once more, while she stretched her hands out to him. "And yau you are Philip's friend I You are Bertie Cecil!" Silently he bowed his head. Not even for his brother's sake or for sake of his 'pledged word could he have lied to her. But her outstretched hands he would not seet he would not take. The shad ow of an imputed crime was stretched between them. "Little queen!" he murmured. It was his pet name for her when she was a child. "Ah, God! How could I be so blind?" She grew very pale as she sank back again upon the couch from which she had risen. It seemed to her as though a thousand years had drifted by since she had stood beside this man under the summer leaves of the Stephanien and he had kissed her childish lips and thanked her for her loving gift And now they had met thus! N "Tfcey thought that you were dead," she said at length, while her voice sank very low. "Why have you lived like this?" He made no answer. "It was cruel to,Phiiip," she went on, .hile her voice still shook. a"Child JUKE ^27/11) though I was, I remember his passion of grief when the news came that you had lost your life. He has never for gotten you. So often now he will still speak of you! He is in your camp. We are traveling together. He will be here this evening. What delight it will give him to know his dearest friend is living! But whywhy have you kept him ignorant if you were lost to all the world beside?" Still he answered her nothing. The truth he could not tell, the lie he would not. She paused, waiting reply. Re ceiving none, she spoke once more, her words full of that exquisite softness: "Mr. Cecil, I divined rightly. I felt that in all things save in some acci dent of position we were equals. But why have you condemned yourself to this misery? Your life is brave, is no ble, but it must be a constant torture to such as you." "Leave my life alone, for God's sake!" he said passionately. "Tell me of your owntell me, above all, of his. He loved me, you say? Oh, heaven, he did, better than any creature that ever breathed save the man whose grave lies yonder!" "He does so still," she answered ea gerly. "Philip's is not a heart that for gets. It is a heart of gold, and the name of his earliest friend is graven on it as deeply now as ever. He thinks you dead. Tonight will be the happiest hour he has ever known when he shall meet you here. "Why do you not answer me?" she pursued, while she leaned nearer with wonder and doubt and a certain awak ening dread shadowing the blue luster of her eyes, that were bent so thought fully, so searchingly upon him "Is it possible that you have heard of your inheritance, of your title and estates, and that you voluntarily remain a sol dier here? Lord Royallieu must yield them in the instant you prove your identity, and in that there could be no difficulty. I remember you well now, and Philip, I am certain, will only need to see you once to" "Hush, for pity's sake! Have you never heardhas none ever told you" "What?" He turned from her so that she could not see his face. "That, when I became dead to the world, I died with the taint of crime on me!" "Of crime?" "I was accused of having forged your brother's name." A faint cry escaped her. Her lips grew white, and her eyes darkened and dilated. "Accused! But wrongfully?" His breath came and went in quick, sharp spasms. "I could not prove that." "Not prove it? Why?" "I could not." "But hePhilipnever believed you guilty?" "I cannot tell. He may. He must." "But you are not!" It was not an interrogation, but an affirmation that rang out in the silver clearness of her voice. ITgu are guiltless whatever circnm stance may have arrayed against you, whatever shadow of evil may have fallen falsely on you. Is it not so?" His head bowed low over her hands as he took them. In that moment half the bitterness of his doom passed from him. He had at least her faith. He lifted his head and looked her full in the eyes. Her own closed involun tarily and filled with tears. She felt that the despair and the patience of that look would haunt her until her dying day. "I was guiltless, but none could credit it then, none would do so now Nor can I seek to make them. Ask me no more. Give me your belief if you can. God knows what precious mercy it is to me, but leave me to fulfill my fate and tell no living creature what I have told you now." The great tears stood in her eyes and blinded her as she heard. "Tell no one!" she echoed. "What! Not Philip evennot your oldest friend? Ah, be sure, whatever the evidence might be against you, his heart never condemned you for one instant." "I believe it Yet all you can do for me, all I implore you to do for me, is to keep silence forever on my name. To day accident has made me break a vow I never thought but to keep sa- "Lord Royallieu, why look at me so?" cred. When you recognized me, I could not deny myself, I could not lie to you. But for God's sake tell none of what has passed between us!" "But why?" she pursued. "Why? You lie under this charge stillyou cannot disprove it, you say. But why not come out before the world and state to all what you swear now to me and claim your right to bear your father's honors? If you were falsely accused, there must have been some one guilty In your stead, and if" Cease, for pity's sake! Forget 1 vcr told yon I was guiltlesjs blot my meraory out think of me as dead, as I i^SmEfi^^^^^ik^ have been. I~was innocent. But in honor I must bear the yoke that I took on m long ago in honor I can never give you or any living soul the proof that this crime was not mine. I thought that I should go to my grave without any ever hearing of the years that I have passed in Africa, without any ever learning the name I used to bear. As it is, all I can ask is nowto be for gotten." "You ask what will not be mine to give," she answered him, while a*great weariness stole through her own words, for she Was bewildered and pained and oppressed with a new, strange sense of helplessness before this man's nameless suffering. "Re- member, I knew you so well in my earliest years, and you are so dear to the one dearest to me. It will not be possible to forget such a meeting as this. Silence, of course, you can com mand from me if you insist on it, but" "I command nothing from you, but I implore it. It is the sole mercy you can show. Never, for GJT sake, speak of me to your brother or to mine." "But why? If all this could be clear ed'V "It never can be." The, baffled sense of impotence against the granite wall of some im movable calamity which she had felt before came on her. "Lord Royallieu," she said softly at length, while she rose and moved to ward him. "Why look at me so?" she pursued ere he could speak. "Act how you will, you cannot change the fact that you are the bearer of your fa ther's title. So long as you live your brother Berkeley can never take it legally. You may be a chasseur of the African army, but none the less are you a peer of England." "What matters that?" he muttered. "Why tell me that? I have said I am dead. Leave me buried here and let him enjoy what he may, what he can." "But this is folly, madness" "No it is neither. I have told you I should stand as a felon in the eyes of the English law. I should have no civil rights. The greatest mercy fate can show me is to let me remain for gotten here. It will not be long, most likely, before I am thrust into the Af rican sand to rot like that brave soul out yonder. Berkeley will be the law ful holder of the title then. Leave him in peace and possession now." She stood close beside him and gazed once more full in his eyes, while the sweet, imperious cadence of her voice answered him: "There is more than I know of here. Either you are the greatest madman or the most generous man that ever lived. You choose to guard your own secret. I will not seek to persuade it from you. But tell me one thingwhy do you thus abjure your rights, permit a false charge to rest on you and con sign yourself forever to this cruel ag- ony?" His lips shook under his beard as he answered her: rrBecause~Fcan dcTncTTessln" honorT For God's sake, do not you tempt me!" A quick, deep sigh escaped her as she heard, her face grew very pale, as it had done before, and she moved slightly from him. "Forgive me," she said after a long pause. "I will never ask you that again." Heavy as had been the curse to him of that one hour in which honor had forbade him to compromise a woman's reputation and old tenderness had for bade him to betray a brother's sin, he had never paid so heavy a price for his act as that which he paid now. Through the yellow sunlight without over the barren dust strewn plains, in the distance there approached three rid ers, accompanied by a small escort of spahis. She started and turned to him: "It is Philip! He is coming for me from your camp today." His eyes strained through the sun glare. "Ah, God! I cannot meet him. I have not strength. You do not know" "I know how well he loved you." "Not better than I him! But I can not, I dare not. Unless I could meet him as we never shall meet upon earth we must be apart forever For heav en's sake promise me never to speak my name!" "I promise until you release me." "And you can believe me innocent still in face of all?" She stretched her hands to him once more. "I believe, for I know what you once were." Great burning tears fell from his eyes upon her hands as he bent over them: "God bless you! You were an angel of pity to me in your childhood. ID your womanhood you give me the only mercy I have known since the last day you looked upon my face! We shall be far sundered forever. May I come to you once more?" She paused in hesitation and in thought awhile, while for the first time in all her years a tremulous tenderness passed over her face. She felt an un utterable pity for this man and for his doom. Then she drew her hands gently away from him: "Yes, I w'll see you again." So much concession to such a prayer Venetia Corona had never before given. He could not command his voice to answer, but he bowed low before her as before an empress. Another mo ment and she was alone. "Is he a madman?" she mused. "If not, he, is a martyr, one of the greatest that ever suffered unknown to other men." In the coolness of the late evening in the court of the caravansary her broth er and his friends lounged with her and the two ladies of their touring and sketching party, while they drank their sherbet and talked of the Gerome col ors of the place and watched the flame fef th afterglow burn out and threw millet t the doves and pigeons stray ing at tlieir ieet "My dear Venetia," cried the Seraph carelessly, tossing handfuls of grain to the eager birds, "I inquired for your sculptor chasseurthat fellow Victor but I failed to see him, for he had been sent on an expedition shortly after I reached the camp. They tell me he is a fine soldier. But by what the mar quis said I fear he is but a handsome blackguard, and Africa, after all, may be his fittest place. There is a charm ing little creature there, a little fire eaterCigarette they call herwho is In love with him, I fancy. Such a pic turesque child! Swears like a trooper, too," continued he who was now Duke of Lyonnesse. "By the way, is Berke ley gone?' "Left yesterday." "What for? Where to?" "I was not interested to inquire." Her brother looked at her earnestly. There was a care upon ber face new to him. "Are you well, my darling?" he ask ed her. "Has the sun been t* hot for you?" She rose and gathered her cashmeres about her and smiled somewhat weari ly her adieu to him. "Both perhaps. I am tired. Good night" [TO BE CONTINUED Imitators have been many Thought ful people have learned that true merit comes only with the genuine Rocky Mountain Tea made by the Madison Medicine Co 35c For sale by C. A. Jack Not Satisfactory. _. 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